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Patient Educ Couns. 2013 Jun;91(3):392-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2012.12.011. Epub 2013 Feb 1.

The asthma knowledge and perceptions of older Australian adults: implications for social marketing campaigns.

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  • 1Centre for Health Initiatives, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia.



The purpose of this research is to gain an understanding of the asthma perceptions of older adults and identify gaps in their asthma knowledge.


In regional New South Wales, Australia, a stratified, random sample of 4066 adults, aged 55 years and over, both with and without an asthma diagnosis, completed a survey based on the Health Belief Model about asthma knowledge and perceptions.


Almost half of the sample had experienced symptoms of breathlessness in the past four weeks. Breathlessness was a predictor of lower health ratings and poorer mood. Older adults reported low susceptibility to developing asthma. The sample demonstrated poor knowledge of key asthma symptoms including shortness of breath, tightness in the chest and a cough at night.


There is a general lack of asthma awareness in this age group. This could result in not seeking medical help, and thus a reduced quality of life.


Older adults should be made aware of key symptoms and the prevalence of asthma in the older adult population, and be empowered to take control of their respiratory health. Audience segmentation for an intervention should be based on recent experience of breathlessness and asthma diagnosis.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

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